Doctor Who: Planet of Evil Review

                                                                                            By Will Barber – Taylor
                                                                                  “There is no anti matter aboard this ship!”
                                                                                 “And I tell you, there is!”
The Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith are attempting to return to London when they receive a distress call from the planet Zeta Minor, the last planet in the known Universe.  They soon discover that Professor Soronson, the last surviving member of his expedition has discovered a new source of fuel which will save his galaxy from destruction. The only problem is the new fuel is a type of anti matter.  Can The Doctor stop Soronson from bringing down the wrath of Zeta Minor on all of them?This story is the second in Tom Baker’s second season as The Doctor and the first to not feature Harry Sullivan, (who left the series in the previous story Terror of The Zygons).  The plot revolves around a similar theme to Terror – the search for fuel. The use of fuel in the last story was part of the setting rather than a central part of the story. The idea that a dying galaxy must venture to the brink of the universe simply to keep itself alive is intriguing and mirrors the predicament that exists on our own planet in this century.

Another point about the plot is that Soronson tries to take something from nature and all but The Doctor realises that nature will and can fight back.  In fact, it is Soronson’s attack on nature which causes the death of the rest of his expedition.   Furthermore, it also causes the destruction of a lot of people on the ship who are sent to rescue him.   This could suggest that the author, Louis Marks is making a point about the way humans take energy from nature and use the natural resources to their own advantage.

One final point is that the transformation from the normal Soronson to the “anti man” as The Doctor dubs him, is rather Jekyll and Hyde. It could be suggested that Marks is also pointing out that tampering with nature and the laws of the Universe is a bad thing which will only result in the destruction of the people who discover it.

Tom Baker excels as the defender of nature.  We enjoy his acting versatility as he moves smoothly from scientist to action hero.

The late Elizabeth Sladen is believable as Sarah Jane Smith as she helps save The Doctor and stops Soronson from destroying all of creation.

Fredrick Jaeger plays the obsessive Soronson incredibly well.   His best scene is at the start of part one, where he will not leave his excavation of the ores even though it will soon become night.

The one thing that seriously lets this story down is the costumes and the effects at the time.  The Anti Matter creatures are more like crayon drawings than anything else.  They are as scary as a four leaf clover.  Another let down is the “Anti Man” creature that Soronson becomes. The costume for the creature is like a cast off from Planet of the Apes (1960’s film and TV series.) and about as scary as the POTA creatures.  It is disappointing that a story with an exciting script and excellent acting is let down by the monsters.

All in all this is a good story, with excellent, thought provoking writing, good acting and directing. The trouble is the fact that technology was at a point in that period of history where the story couldn’t be done justice. Saying that, it’s the wobbly set and silly costumes which makes classic Doctor Who so watch able. It is nostalgic and nostalgia   is one of the most powerful things of all.

This review previously appeared on TheCultDen. Why not check them out?

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